The Origin of Jingle Bells

The Origin of Jingle Bells

Posted in in Articles by Mark Malekpour on

Jingle Bells is one of the most popular and commonly sung Christmas songs. It's original title was 'One Horse in an Open Sleigh' and written by James Lord Pierpont sometime during 1822–1893 intended for the Thanksgiving season. It was claimed the song was sung by children in Sunday school but this has been disputed due to the lyrics being a little 'racy' and secular for Church. The two first stanzas and chorus of the original 1857 lyrics differed slightly from those we know today. It is unknown who replaced the words with those of the modern version. The original word 'upsot' is a traditional meaning for 'upset'.

Original Lyrics
Today's Lyrics

Dashing thro' the snow,
In a one-horse open sleigh,
O'er the hills we go,
Laughing all the way;
Bells on bob tail ring,
Making spirits bright,
Oh what sport to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight.


|: chorus :|
Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way;
Oh! what joy it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

A day or two ago
I tho't I'd take a ride
And soon Miss Fannie Bright
Was seated by my side.
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And we—we got upsot.

Dashing through the snow
In a one-horse open sleigh
O'er the fields we go
Laughing all the way

Bells on bob tail ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to ride and sing
A sleighing song tonight!

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way.
Oh! what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

Jingle bells, jingle bells,
Jingle all the way;
Oh! what fun it is to ride
In a one-horse open sleigh.

Although less well-known than the opening, the remaining verses depict high-speed youthful fun. In the second verse, the narrator takes a ride with a girl and loses control of the sleigh:

A day or two ago
I thought I'd take a ride
And soon, Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side,
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
He got into a drifted bank
And then we got upsot.
|: chorus :|

In the next verse (which is often skipped), he falls out of the sleigh and a rival laughs at him:

A day or two ago,
The story I must tell
I went out on the snow,
And on my back I fell;
A gent was riding by
In a one-horse open sleigh,
He laughed as there I sprawling lie,
But quickly drove away.
|: chorus :|

In the last verse, after relating his experience, he gives advice to a friend to pick up some girls, find a faster horse, and take off at full speed:

Now the ground is white
Go it while you're young,
Take the girls tonight
and sing this sleighing song;
Just get a bobtailed bay
Two forty as his speed
Hitch him to an open sleigh
And crack! you'll take the lead.

While having no direct link or reference to Christmas, it has become associated with the holiday decades after first being performed in 1857. Some area choirs adopted it as part of their repertoire in the 1860s and 1870s, and it was featured in a variety of parlour song and college anthologies in the 1880s. It was first recorded in 1889 on an Edison cylinder.

The original 1857 "Jingle Bells" had a slightly different chorus featuring a more classical-style melody. The "I V vi iii IV I V I" chord progression is a common theme in classical music; except for the final two chord changes, the melody as originally written follows the same chord progression as Pachelbel's Canon; the tune would later become more closely associated with another Christmas song, "Jolly Old Saint Nicholas," which appeared about twenty years after "Jingle Bells".

We have a selection of royalty free jingle bells music available. Sample them below. Or, if you fancy a wider range of festive tunes, check out our royalty free Christmas music.

Posted by Mark Malekpour

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Royalty Free Jingle Bells Music

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Fun, upbeat version of this christmas classic set to a bouncy dance beat. Uplifting, festive and heartwarming. Download this copyright free jingle bells music track now. Part of our christmas dance music collection.

Mood/Themes:
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Genres:
General Christmas Music, Jingle Bells,

Fun, upbeat version of this christmas classic set to a bouncy dance beat. Uplifting, festive and heartwarming. Part of our christmas dance music collection.

Mood/Themes:
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Genres:
Jingle Bells,

Heartwarming rendition of this festive classic with a swinging jazz style beat. Enchanting, magical and touching. Part of our Jingle Bells production music collection. Browse all of our royalty free christmas music.

Mood/Themes:
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Genres:
Christmas Music, General Christmas Music, Jingle Bells,

Included in this pack:

  • Play Jingle Bells 30 (M)
  • Play Jingle Bells 60 (M)
  • Play Jingle Bells Loop (M)

Upbeat, merry and lively version of the classic tune. High spirited and fun. Download jingle bells copyright free now. Browse all of our royalty free christmas music.

Mood/Themes:
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Genres:
Christmas Music, General Christmas Music, Jingle Bells,

High spirited, lively version of the classic Jingle Bells tune. Upbeat tempo and rhythm. Download a preview of this royalty free jingle bells music now. Browse all of our royalty free christmas music.

Mood/Themes:
Keywords:
Genres:
Christmas Music, General Christmas Music, Jingle Bells,

Included in this pack:

  • Play Jingle Bells 30
  • Play Jingle Bells 60

Banjo, Yokel, Deep South American version of the famous Christmas tune. Download this Jingle Bells music track now.

Mood/Themes:
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Genres:
Jingle Bells,

Joyous, upbeat solo-piano version of this classic festive theme. Elegant, spritely and enchanting, our Christmas Jingle Bells music will brighten up any project. Browse all of our royalty free christmas music.

Mood/Themes:
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Genres:
Christmas Music, Piano Christmas Themes, Jingle Bells,

A lively upbeat dance themed version of this traditional Christmas tune. Part of our christmas dance music collection.

Mood/Themes:
Keywords:
Genres:
General Christmas Music, Jingle Bells,

Included in this pack:

  • Play Jingle Bells 30
  • Play Jingle Bells 60

Easy going, relaxed and happy rendition of the classic Christmas tune with acoustic guitar and flute. Browse all of our royalty free christmas music.

Mood/Themes:
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Genres:
Christmas Music, General Christmas Music, Jingle Bells,

Happy, positive and uplifting alternative to the classic Christmas Jingle Bells tune. Browse all of our royalty free christmas music.

Mood/Themes:
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Genres:
Christmas Music, Contemporary Christmas, Jingle Bells,

Included in this pack:

  • Play Jingle Bells Dingaling 30
  • Play Jingle Bells Dingaling 60

Joyous, high spirited rendition of the classic Christmas tune with a warming feel. Browse all of our royalty free christmas music.

Mood/Themes:
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Genres:
Christmas Music, Contemporary Christmas, Jingle Bells,

Included in this pack:

  • Play Jingle Bells 30
  • Play Jingle Bells 60

Light, fun and playful rendition of the traditional Christmas Carol with female vocals singing accompanied by acoustic guitar and sleigh bells.

Mood/Themes:
Keywords:
Genres:
Christmas Carols, Jingle Bells,

A fun and cute version of the Christmas classic, with children singing. Available in various versions: A group of children singing, a single child up-front, an instrumental version with lead melody, and an underscore / sing-along version.

Mood/Themes:
Keywords:
Genres:
Nursery Rhymes, Jingle Bells,

Included in this pack:

  • Play Jingle Bells Children (Underscore with Hey)
  • Play Jingle Bells Children (Underscore)

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